The story of Anthony Giorgio, Pensacola Police Department’s 11th Gold Medal of Valor recipient
By Mike Simmons
From the book, “Stories of Pensacola’s Finest,” available on Amazon
May 9, 2021
Johnson’s Beach was a flurry of activity on Mother’s Day, 2021. The Giorgio family was grilling and having a great time. The grillmaster was Anthony Giorgio, a Pensacola Police Officer.
Just after noon, Anthony’s attention turned to people in the water. All he could hear were the desperate screams of desperate people that someone was drowning. Without a thought for himself, Anthony ran 100 yards to the Gulf, jumped in, and swam another 50 yards. He rescued one and swam back to safety. Looking back, he saw more people struggling, so he went back in. He rescued another and swam back to safety. Exhausted, he swam back out to a group of people all holding onto a kiddie ring. They had tried to help but were swept away by the rip current. He didn’t know how to get them to shore. They were frozen in panic. First, he tried to push the group, but it didn’t work. Finally, he put his arm through the kiddie ring and pulled them all to safety. There was a point where he thought he might not make it, but a surge of energy came over him and he made it to shore. They all were checked out at the hospital and recovered 100%.
What a hero!
On May 30, 2021, Anthony gathered at the police station with all of the victims and rescuers for a reunion. In addition, Anthony’s supervisor, Sergeant Chad Wilhite, recommended him for the Pensacola Police Department’s Gold Medal of Valor. It was only the 11th such award in the long and distinguished history of the police department. He received the award on August 4, 2021.
On May 16, 2022, Anthony and his daughter were invited to the White House where he received the United States Medal of Valor by President Joe Biden. When he met the President, Biden leaned over to him and said, “Take safer vacations!” He then presented him with the medal.
But the highlight for Anthony came from an unexpected source. Anthony is a school resource officer at Pensacola High School. After his heroic feat, he was at school one day when one of his students came up to him and thanked him for saving his cousins. Anthony couldn’t hold back the tears. That comment made it all worth it.
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